Conversations About The History of Ideas

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Open Agenda Publishing, Oct 1, 2020 - Philosophy

Conversations About The History Of Ideas include the following five carefully-edited Ideas Roadshow Conversations featuring leading intellectual historians with a detailed preface highlighting the connections between the different books:

I. The Two Cultures, Revisited - A conversation with Stefan Collini, Professor Emeritus of Intellectual History and English Literature at the University of Cambridge. The 'Two Cultures' debate of the 1960s between C.P. Snow and F.R. Leavis is one of the most misunderstood intellectual disputes of the 20th century. Most people think that the debate only revolved around the notion that our society is characterized by a divide between two cultures – the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other. This book is based on an extended conversation between Howard Burton and University of Cambridge intellectual historian Stefan Collini— and author of the book, What Are Universities For?— which provides a careful examination and illuminating insights of what the issues really were in this debate.

II. Deconstructing Genius - A conversation with Darrin McMahon, the Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor of History at Dartmouth College. This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and intellectual historian Darrin McMahon, Dartmouth College. The word “genius” evokes great figures like Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Mozart but what quintessential quality unites these individuals? Can we measure it? Can we create it? This thoughtful conversation explores Darrin’s research on the evolution of genius from Plato to Einstein (which led him to write the book Divine Fury: A History of Genius) in an effort to illuminate what our evolving genius mythology reveals about the rest of us. 

III. Turning the Mirror: A View From The East - A conversation with Pankaj Mishra, award-winning author. This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and award-winning writer Pankaj Mishra.They discuss several of Pankaj’s books, including From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia and An End To Suffering: The Buddha In The World, and his motivations behind them. 

IV. Pants On Fire: On Lying In Politics - A conversation with Martin Jay, the Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History Emeritus at UC Berkeley. This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and renowned intellectual historian Martin Jay, UC Berkeley. A thought-provoking book in dialogue format examining Martin Jay’s extensive research on lying in politics from Plato and St. Augustine to Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss which culminated in his book The Virtues of Mendacity.

V. Quest For Freedom - A conversation with Quentin Skinner, Barber Beaumont Professor Emeritus of the Humanities at Queen Mary University of London. This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and intellectual historian Quentin Skinner, Barber Beaumont Professor Emeritus of the Humanities at Queen Mary University of London. Quentin Skinner is considered to be one of the founders of the Cambridge School of the history of political thought. This thoughtful, detailed conversation examines how Quentin Skinner came to appreciate the importance of the distinction between the modern view of freedom and the so-called neo-Roman view, together with what it implies for our current and future political understanding.

Howard Burton is the creator and host of Ideas Roadshow and was the Founding Executive Director of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

All the above books are also available for individual purchase. For other books in this series visit Howard Burton's author page or our website (


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Inseparable Factors?
East and West
Discovering Buddhism
Personal Examinations
At an Impasse
Learning From the Past
Continuing the Conversation

Combatting Clichés
The Fallout
Lessons Learned? IX What Are Universities For?
Constructive Engagement
The Humanities vs The Sciences
General Implications
Continuing the Conversation
Opening Up Sightlines
The Equality Paradox
Towards The Dark Side
Romantic Genius
Nature vs Nurture
Evil Genius
Geniuses Everywhere
The Future of Genius
Gradually Expanding
The Science of Genius
Continuing the Conversation
A Different Perspective
Demanding a Response
A Fruitful Approach
The Liars Stage
Lies American Style
Transcending Kant
Coming Clean
Monological Dangers
Getting Worse?
Puritanical Dangers
Politics vs Science
Continuing the Conversation
Paradoxical Origins
Presupposing the State
The Perils of Arbitrary Power
Freedom Applied
Reshaping a Moral World
Question and Answer Continuing the Conversation

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About the author (2020)

Howard Burton, the founder and creator of Ideas On Film, holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy. For his award-winning initiative Ideas Roadshow, Howard has hosted and filmed in-depth conversations with more than 100 world-leading experts, including 3 Nobel Laureates, through a focused yet informal setting. 

Howard has been able to capture candid, behind-the-scenes insights which offer a detailed portrayal of the world of today's top researchers across all disciplines. Howard was the Founding Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and his experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of PI were described in his book, First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, featuring a foreword by Nobel Laureate Roger Penrose.

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